With friends like these… Meryl Dorey’s exploitation of Saba Button

Over the past few months I’ve come to accept that there is one Australian absolutely delighted with the fact that (then) 12 month old Saba Button suffered organ and brain damage following febrile convulsions brought on by Fluvax.

Meryl Dorey of the AVN has enveloped herself in the tragedy of the Button family, declaring long and loud she is their unofficial antivaccination representative. She claims to have twice met with them and had been, “in contact by both telephone and email many times over the intervening period…”. Finally, after 18 years of fabrication, untraceable images, offensive claims and being a danger to public health the woman who likens vaccination to “rape with full penetration” has landed her fish.

She writes in a conspiracy piece on her blog:

I can also tell you that this reaction was entirely preventable because neither they nor any other parent who gave permission for their precious child to be vaccinated in this campaign was informed that their babies were being used as guinea pigs in a trial that was paid for by the drug companies involved. Neither were they aware that those payments going to people who ostensibly worked for the government (both state and federal) and who were considered to be – but actually were not – independent.

All of this is a complete fabrication. No trials are conducted surreptitiously. Ethics requirements aside exactly what data could those conducting Meryl’s pretend trial hope to collate? By who, how and when would subjects be monitored, what tests would be carried out and for how long? Indeed Dorey is suggesting this “trial” was simply a stab in the dark to see what happened. No such trial took place and thus was not paid for by drug companies. Worse, this is knowingly exploitative of the Button family and reduces their personal tragedy and grief to yet another of the thousands of tactics Meryl Dorey has used to mislead Australians.

Morally it is no different to her claim yesterday that infants who die in a co-sleeping arrangement are likely vaccine induced fatalities. Why? Because GP’s point out the danger of this arrangement, so it must be an abuse of “natural instinct” and thus a conspiracy is in order. Or her ACTION ALERT! announcement that supporters of vaccines were mobilising to harass the author of Virus in the system – an article that recounted Saba’s experience.

CSL does carry out yearly trials following strict protocols on an informed, compliant sample, the results of which are published in peer reviewed literature. This is mentioned below. Yet I’m not here to make excuses for CSL whose conduct surrounding Fluvax, their economic handling of certain legitimate trial results and adherence to Good Manufacturing Practice leaves a great deal to be desired. Nor am I by any stretch of the imagination a fan of Dr. Rohan Hammett, head of Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration. One cannot however make conclusions without evidence. Unless of course, one fabricates.

As an update, one commenter below has pointed out there was a trial to gauge the epidemiological impact of the present schedule, in response to infant fatalities from influenza the year before.  I’m perhaps duty bound to note that infant fatality from flu was mentioned by Judy Wilyman at the AVN’s first Perth trip on June 30th 2010 at the State Library, W.A. Judy informed the audience that the media report such fatalities as scare campaigns to “coerce us into vaccination”. This is because, “We’re being educated by the media who have pharmaceutical interests”. I should also point out that W.A. was the only state to use seasonal influenza and H1N1 together for children under five, which can be regarded as novel and thus raise concerns about earlier trials, particularly on sample size. Yet there were no guinea pigs, or state sanctioned, profit driven guesswork.

Regarding “those payments going to people who ostensibly worked for the government…”, that too is fallacious. TGA national manager Dr Rohan Hammett was before a Senate estimates committee on October 19th, being quizzed over the very nature of Fluvax, CSL, trial results, the febrile convulsions in W.A. and payments from drug companies.

Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, quizzes Dr. Hammett beginning with justified concerns that the TGA knew of high fevers in 2009. Yet more disturbing is that 2005 trial data yielded fever rates of 22.5%. The 2006 fever rates were 39.5%. Despite this, CSL advised the TGA in 2009 of the 2005 figure [pp.42-43]:

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Are you demanding an explanation? You should be.
Dr Hammett: We are. We have written to CSL.
Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: It emerged that the company knew two years ago about research suggesting a sharp rise in feeders linked to its seasonal flu vaccine but omitted this from information given to doctors. We have canvassed this in these estimates. My question is: when did you and when did the government first know about this? Is this the first you have heard of it? That is really what I would like to know.
Dr Hammett: No, it is not, Senator. In 2009 a study was published which related to clinical trials undertaken in 2005 and 2006. That study was published in peer-reviewed scientific literature. We were advised by CSL of its publication at about the same time as it was actually published. You will recall that that in the years before the Fluvax incident with febrile convulsions—and, indeed, for the last four decades—seasonal flu vaccine has been regarded as an incredibly safe vaccine. In 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005 there was no suggestion of safety problems with the flu vaccine.
In retrospect, knowing now what we know in 2010, that there was a problem with the 2010 vaccine, people are going back through clinical trials and saying, ‘With the aid of the ‘retrospector scope’, could we have picked anything?’ Indeed, in those earlier clinical trials there were rates of fever for the Fluvax vaccine that were higher than some other comparable vaccines. However, as noted in yesterday’s article, most of those fevers were mild or moderate and there was no sign of a febrile convulsion signal. Febrile convulsions were not occurring in those studies that were done.
As I have said, we have written to CSL and made inquiries as to whether there was any delay in notification of us of these issues and have sought to gain a greater understanding of what they knew when. We have not yet received a response, but we are awaiting that.
Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Can I ask you to take on notice how much money has been paid to CSL? It is an enormous amount of money that you pay them. You obviously must have a very close relationship with CSL—and I mean that simply because of the nature of the work that they do and how much they provide in terms of products to the Commonwealth. Surely, Dr Hammett, you must have been aware of what this company was doing and certainly known about its research in relation to these fevers.
Ms Halton: Let’s just back up a second. There are a couple of things. Dr Hammett is the regulator. He does not pay the CSL anything. He has a very clear role, which is as a regulator. He takes that role very responsibly and very seriously. There is a separate part of the government which purchases vaccine, including from CSL. So I think we need to make a distinction here about who is paying what for whom and what the nature of the relationship is, because I do think it is—
Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I am happy for that to happen, Ms Halton, but the point that I am getting to is, given the close relationship—whether it is on the side of the purchasing arm or on the side of the TGA—this is a serious issue. Two years ago, at a period much earlier than has been previously canvassed in these estimates, there was an issue about fever. My question is: when did the government first become aware of this?

Senator Nick Xenophon later cuts to the chase addressing Hammett [p.44]:

Because time is so limited, I will put some questions on notice for you. First, can you provide details of when the TGA first became aware of the peer-reviewed article? Second, at what point was action taken? Third, did the TGA embark on other inquiries as a result of that peer-reviewed article? Fourth, do you agree with Professor Peter Collignon’s view? It is:
The TGA should be ensuring companies do update their data—it should be compulsory that the TGA should be informed of any new information, and the TGA should ensure the product information is updated to reflect that.

What really stinks coming from CSL is that the 2010 product information did not include the already documented 2009 higher fever rates. It is true these fevers are usually mild to moderate and of short duration – a factor which influenced the TGA to take no action.

It is here – and only here – that Meryl Dorey is more than welcome to raise concerns and recount poor practice or lack of insight and follow up on the part of either CSL or the TGA. However perhaps the greatest damage done by CSL is to public confidence in the safety of influenza vaccination, particularly for at risk children.

So what of actual febrile convulsion? Dorey variously claims hundreds of hospitalisations or hundreds of cases. The ABC reported “hundreds of reactions” on April 18th, 2010 with 47 taken to hospital reported on April 23. The West Australian on the same day reports 23 admissions. This led to the suspension nationwide by Commonwealth chief health officer Professor Jim Bishop.

Fluvax was given to W.A. babies resulting in a seizure rate of 3.3 per 1000. On this point MJA Insight write:

This rate of febrile convulsions [noted in 2006 trial data] (1 per 272) is similar to the estimate for the 2010 season (3.3 per 1000) which led to the unprecedented decision by Australia’s chief medical officer to suspend the use of paediatric flu vaccines.

A TGA spokeswoman told MJA InSight that a single adverse reaction report within a clinical study was not usually regarded as an adequate signal of a major safety problem. Lead author of the clinical study, Professor Terry Nolan, also told MJA InSight that the small sample size of the study meant the rates of febrile convulsions were not comparable with those seen in the community in 2010.

“We did a clinical study. It was published in a peer-reviewed journal. The serious adverse events were notified to the sponsor [CSL]”, said Professor Nolan, who is also head of the school of population health at Melbourne University.

It is not Professor Nolan’s role to inform the TGA. Nor do other members of the ATAGI receive special bonuses or payments from drug companies to influence perception of vaccines. Nevertheless Dorey manufactured a letter from a supposed “whistleblower”. A sordid tale about another W.A. based ATAGI member being handsomely rewarded by evil drug companies led her to wind up her article with:

In fact, we are told that all of our medical advisors must be paid by the drug companies because it seems to be impossible to find qualified people who haven’t been tainted by drug company cash.

This is why the AVN says that we can’t trust our government when it comes to their assessment of the safety or effectiveness of drugs and vaccines. There is a holy trinity comprised of the government, the drug companies and the doctors. This triad is protected by self-regulation (via the TGA which is completely funded by pharmaceutical licensing fees) and a complicit media which is beholden to drug company advertising.

Sounds conspiratorial? Well I’m sorry, but these are the facts.

No Meryl, that is simply fantastic conspiracy twaddle wasting good space on your blog when the real facts are far more convincing and indeed far more concerning.

But Meryl wasn’t finished with that simple post-W.A. trip tantrum, presumably to let off steam after her enormous W.A. tour flop. Last Wednesday November 16th she posted:

We read fiction:

I personally know of one 70 year old woman and a 19 year old man who were hospitalised within hours of getting the shot and who died within 7 and 2 days of that (respectively) Those deaths were never reported as being related to the vaccine.

More accusations are made about the TGA “knowing” and the CDC not buying Fluvax for this reason. No sources are cited. Then most offensively:

I will check and see how donations can be made to Saba’s fund. I know there is one that was set up for her when she was first injured. Her parents could not possibly be taking care of her in this way if it weren’t for that fund. Here’s hoping that compensation will be swift and generous for this poor victim of vaccines.

So far there is no word and I imagine no feedback will be forthcoming. In all the press surrounding Saba Button Meryl Dorey and the AVN is totally absent. Dorey has never breathed a word of the lawyer acting for the Buttons. History shows exactly what will happen to any money she would have gleefully collected and pocketed before the OLGR revoked her charitable fund raising licence for exactly that reason. Members of Stop the AVN can be proud they have this time stopped her stealing money from another family in need.

Those familiar with Dorey know if this was a death from a vaccine preventable disease her accusations would be of earlier vaccines – especially HBV leading to the death, possible antibiotic induced fatality, a lack of breast feeding or a simple media fabrication designed to scare people into vaccinating. Without sighting the medical records Dorey might well deny any disease at all. “You didn’t die from [measles or whooping cough] thirty years ago and you’re not going to die from it today”, she announced on national TV. All that’s needed is homeopathy, fresh air and clean water. Avoid doctors and hospitals.

Let’s face it. Dorey cares little for children, vaccine injured or maimed by the diseases she has helped bring back to dangerous levels. On either side they are tools to help her to offend, mislead and to cultivate fear. Snaring an innocent family with a very rational view of the world in her web of deceit can only be a negative for them. There are ample facts that assist their case. Facts Dorey is largely ignorant of. I fail utterly to see how lies and conspiracy theories manufactured by a proven threat to public health can be welcome.

Saba Button is in need of constant care via conventional medicine. Dorey is an out and proud enemy of conventional medicine. Despite the catalyst for her injuries Saba will forever be an at risk patient and need vaccination and conventional prophylactic measures to protect her from future viral threats. She will be surrounded by doctors, specialists and hospital staff perhaps for most of her life. The very people and places Dorey insists keep people sick – for profit.

It’s time Meryl Dorey did at least one morally correct thing and just left the Button family alone.